Friday, August 31, 2012

05 Molding Design Nº 1

This is the first of a series about Mold Design. As I have mentioned before, I am following the Ball-Jointed Doll making method of Martha Armstrong-Hand more closely with this third version of my first BJD.

I first wrote about Marth's Method a couple of years ago. I was just discovering her method back then, and was already becoming fascinated with it. In order to try and understand her method even better, I wrote about Martha's Method at the Woodland Earth Studio forum.

What I did at WES was to follow the Table of Contents in Martha's book, Learning To Be A Doll Artist. The Table of Contents outlines her method in 19 chapters, from Ideas and Planning to Displaying a finished porcelain BJD. So far, I have followed the first four chapters pretty closely, deviating slightly in the making of the armature.

Chapter 1 Ideas and Plans is 01 Ideas and Planning, here.
Chapter 2 Drawing is 02 Drawing, here.
Chapter 3 Making the Armature is 03 Armature, here.
Chapter 4 Modeling is 04 Modeling, here.

The fourth chapter ends with removing the oil-clay figure from the modeling stand, and cutting it up to prepare it for molding. The next three chapters, are all about molding. Chapter 5 is all about making plaster rough shell molds for casting carving wax, an intermediary modeling material that is suitable for later stages of her method. Chapter 6 is about the principles of designing plaster molds so that the models do not get stuck in the molds, and other possible mishaps. Finally, Chapter 7 is about making the final plaster slip-casting molds, also known as production molds.

However, that is not how I work. I think it is better to learn about the principles of mold design before making any plaster molds. So what I am going to do is mix up her steps so that they follow the actual work flow of how I am making a ball-jointed doll. So I am not going to write about Chapter 7, which is all about making the plaster production molds, until I am ready to make the plaster production molds. That happens after Chapter 10, which is about test stringing the carving wax BJD.

That is why this series is labeled 05 Mold Design, which is about the principles of mold making. In other words, this series is going to be more theory than actual practice. While I am reviewing the principles of mold design, I am actually going to be finishing up the cut doll parts, and getting them ready to mold. So.....

Chapter 6 Mold Design in LTBADA, will be 05 Mold Design here.

Then I will do the series about making the waste molds of the oil-clay doll parts for casting the carving wax doll parts. I am planning on using a reusable mold material known as hot-pour moulage to make waste molds of the oil-clay doll parts, in order to cast the carving wax doll parts. However, I will also discuss making plaster rough shell molds as well. The principles of mold design will be of use, no matter whether the waste molds are made of plaster, hot-pour moulage, or even silicone rubber.

Chapter 5 Mold Making in LTBADA, will be 06 Waste Molds here.

After making the waste molds, it will be time to discuss making and casting carving wax. I use my own studio-made carving wax, and I like it very much.

Chapter 8 Wax Work in LTBADA, will be 07 Carving Wax here.

Then the design of the ball and socket joints will be discussed. The ball and socket joints are designed and made in carving wax. Also the test stringing is done with the carving wax doll parts. Carving wax is tough enough to withstand elastic tensioning.

Chapter 9 Body Works in LTBADA will be 08 Body Works here, and
Chapter 10 Stringing Design in LTBADA, will be 09 Stringing Design here.

Finally, it will be time to make the production molds. It is at this point in the whole process that a doll maker can decide to make silicone rubber production molds for casting polyurethane resin BJDs, or plaster slip-casting molds for making porcelain slip doll parts or doll composition slip doll parts. The carving wax patterns are good for making the final production molds, no matter what kind of material the final doll is to be made of. The trick, of course, is to use the proper mold material for the chosen casting material.

Chapter 7 Making Molds for Porcelain Slip Casting in LTBADA, will be 10 Production Molds here.

Chapter 11 Casting in Porcelain in LTBADA, will be 11 Casting here.
Chapter 12 On Kilns and Firing in LTBADA, will be 12 Curing here.
Chapter 13 Porcelain Painting in LTBADA, will be 13 Face-ups and Blushing here.
Chapter 14 Stringing Production in LTBADA, will be 14 Doll Assembly here.

The last five chapters of the book will be pretty much the same here.

Chapter 15 Hair and Wigs in LTBADA, will be 15 Wigs here.
Chapter 16 Clothing Design in LTBADA will be 16 Clothing here.
Chapter 17 Shoes in LTBADA, will be 17 Shoes here.
Chapter 18 Accessories in LTBADA will be 18 Accessories here.
Chapter 19 Display in LTBADA, will be 19 Display here.

At this point in the process, I should have a completely finished BJD. I will have completed my apprenticeship with Martha Armstrong-Hand.

I probably should have done this overview earlier, because it is important as a doll maker to Know Your Process. For example, I was able to design the armature I made so it was relatively easy for me to remove the oil-clay figure from the modeling stand, and also to remove the head and limbs from the torso, because I already knew that was a part of the process ahead of time.

Also, I am going to substitute hot-pour moulage molds for the plaster rough shell molds because I know that the hot-pour moulage can be used to cast waxes. And since the hot-pour moulage is reusable, it becomes much more economical for me to use. I will discuss the pros and cons of that when I get to it.

If I am not mistaken, the Martha's Method thread at WES follows this same order. The thing is, I am not just writing about it, now I am also doing it, and documenting my progress, here. So if everything goes as planned, then I should have an elastic tensioned ball-jointed doll in about ten more steps.

I will be casting my final doll in doll composition slip which can be cured at a low temperature in my kitchen oven. However, if the doll composition doll works out, I will be able to use the same plaster production molds to make a porcelain BJD. I do not have a kiln myself, but I know a doll artist whos does have one. So if everything works as planned, I will make arrangements with her to fire a porcelain BJD for me. If that works out, then I may deicde to invest in an electric ceramics kiln to make porcelain BJDs. The alternative to that is to invest in a pressure pot, and try to make polyurethane resin BJDs. I will decide when I get to that point. I still have such a long way to go.

Woodland Earth Studio

Learning To Be A Doll Artist: an apprenticeship with Martha Armstrong-Hand.
Martha Armstrong-Hand.
Lavonia, WI: Scott Publications, 1999.
ISBN: 1893625044

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